British Watchdog Bans American Apparel’s Provocative Ads

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This image from American Apparel's United Kingdom website was ok, but others were banned.

London—American Apparel has been expanding in Europe in search of much needed sales, but trouble has followed the oft-controversial American-made brand there, too.

The company, and its chairman Dov Charney, have been in hot water before over sexual innuendo in its advertising and practices, but now a British watchdog group banned images that appeared on the retailer’s UK website and its free magazine as “exploitative” and likely to cause “serious and widespread offense.”

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld this week complaints that images containing young women baring their breast and buttocks are unsuitable for public consumption.

“We told [American Apparel] not to use similar images, which were exploitative of women or that inappropriately sexualized young woman, in the future,” the ASA said in its decision.

“A Small and Puritanically-Minded Minority”

American Apparel denied the claims, saying the images were similar to those that are posted on Facebook and other social media outlets. And that the models, all in their 20s, were “happy, relaxed and confident in expression and pose.”

In its defense, the Los Angeles-based retailer argued “it was important to judge what was and was not offensive by reference to the current times and the views of the majority of decent and reasonable people, not a small and puritanically-minded minority.”

But the ASA upheld complaints against all but one of American Apparel’s images, acknowledging lingerie ads were reasonable to feature women in limited amounts of clothing, but in this case, the women’s bodies were the focal points, not the products they were wearing.

“We considered that in the particular context of images which featured nudity and sexually provocative poses, there was a voyeuristic and ‘amateurish’ quality to the images which served to heighten the impression that the ads were exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualized young women.”




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